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Wednesday, 31 July 1912

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I should hardly feel contented if I allowed the debate to close without directing attention to the extraordinary position which has developed this afternoon. Perhaps I should congratulate Senator de Largie upon the skill with which this matter has been handled. There is not an honorable senator present who could give his word of honour that the quotations made by Senator de Largie as to attacks upon Mr. Chinn had not reference to a debate in another branch of this Parliament. That being so, although the matter was handled so skilfully as to apparently escape your notice, sir, every honorable senator opposite knew that Senator de Largie was violating the Standing Orders of the Senate.

Senator de Largie - Is that the cry?

Senator Rae - Is that a capital offence?

The PRESIDENT - Order ! Senator de Largie asked to be allowed to make his speech without interjection. He had thirty minutes in which to speak, while Senator Millen has only fifteen minutes.

Senator MILLEN - I felt it to be my duty to direct attention to this, because if by subterfuge we are enabled to evade our own Standing Orders, honorable senators must agree that sooneror later we shall get into inextricable difficulties in debate. I listened carefully during the debate for something which would . justify the assumption . with which the motion was evidently brought forward, and I say that the disclosures, for I call them disclosures, which have been made here to-day do not helpthe position of honorable senators opposite. First of all, let me say that, so far as I am aware, no attack whatever was made on Mr. Chinn in another place, but upon the Government who appointed him. I have listened to hear something which would meet the seriousness of that accusation. The statement was made that Mr. Chinn had been appointed to a certain position, not because he possessed qualifications, but because there were recommendations from supporters of the Labour party that he should be given the appointment because of his Labour sympathies.

Senator McGregor - Had those persons no right to send recommendations?

Senator MILLEN - They had a perfectright to do so, but it becomes a public crime if a Government will make an appointment irrespective of necessary qualifications, and merely because of political partisanship. When this accusation was first launched, it was in the presence of the Minister responsible for the appointment, and in reply he never suggested that the file of papers placed on the table, and covering the appointment, contained any such references as those which have been read here to-day, and which for all I know may or may not be genuine.

Senator de Largie - Oh, oh !

Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator who moved the motion absolutely failed in the first courtesy hitherto extended from honorable senators on one side to those on the other. When a motion for the adjournment of the Senate is to be moved, it has been the invariable practice to give notice to the Government, because such a motion is usually taken advantage of to attack the Government for something they have done or have failed to do. In this case the motion was submitted for quite another purpose, and in the circumstances it would only have been courteous if Senator de Largie had informed members of the party he proposed to attack of the course he intended, to follow.

Senator O'Keefe - Did the honorable senator not see a reference to the matter in the press?

Senator MILLEN - I did not. The first intimation I had of it was from an incidental remark by Senator McGregor, prior to the meeting of the Senate, when we were discussing the business on the paper. The papers submitted in connexion with the appointment of Mr. Chinn disclose letters referring to his party sympathies, but nothing to prove that he has the necessary professional qualifications. If Mr. Chinn possessed the testimonials as to his qualifications which are now produced, why were they not put in when the file of papers was laid before another place?

Senator Needham - They are on the file.

Senator MILLEN - They are not on the file.

Senator Needham - -Those read to-day are not on the file, but others of a similar character are on the file.

Senator MILLEN - Not a single letter was placed before another place to show that Mr. Chinn possessed professional qualifications. If these recommendations were in existence, why were they not presented to the Minister? The fact that they were not presented justified the statement that Mr. Chinn was appointed, not because of these qualifications, which were not known, but because of his political sympathies, which were known. There is the whole position in a nut-shell. If Mr. Chinn had been relying upon his qualifications for his appointment, he would have put in the testimonials which have been produced this afternoon. He evidently thought - and Senator de Largie has demonstrated the clearness of his vision - that what was wanting was not proof of his professional capacity, for he did not put that in, he kept that behind until it might be called for-

Senator de Largie - No, he did not.

Senator MILLEN - He did not put ia these testimonials at all.

Senator de Largie - They were not put on the file, but they were presented when he made his application.

Senator MILLEN - Did Mr. Chinn, have the selection of the papers which were to go on the file? Does he run the Home Affairs Department as well as the job- he has in Western Australia?

Senator de Largie - I do not say that the testimonials were put on the file, but they were presented to the Minister.

Senator MILLEN - The Minister himself said that he had nothing to do with) testimonials ; he did not make the appointment because of any testimonials. What did he make it for? I point out that it is. a very curious thing, if these papers werein the possession of the Department of Home Affairs at any time, that they werenot put forward with the papers which appear on the file.

Senator de Largie - They were not ina the possession of the Department but they were presented to the Minister.

Senator MILLEN - When ?

Senator de Largie - When Mr. China made his application.

Senator MILLEN - Whether it offends; or does not, I take the liberty of expressing., the opinion that when this charge was. made, and the Minister of Home Affairswas on his defence in connexion with it, if he had known of the existence of thesetestimonials, he would have produced them,, in the hope of refuting the charges which were made. I say again that the fact that these papers did not count in the appointment justifies the statement that Mr. Chinn was appointed, not because of the qualifications he is now said to possess, but becauseof his political sympathies which wereamply testified to in the papers which doappear on the file. Senator de Largie hassaid that Mr. Deane recommended the appointment of Mr. Chinn, and he quoted1 a memorandum from Mr. Deane dated I 41:n February last. All I have to say in answer to that is that on the 6th February,, eight days before, Mr. Deane wrote in a, minute which is included in the file -

The Minister having already decided to appoint Mr. Chinn -

Senator Needham - He said nothing of; the sort. Why did he recommend the appointment on the 14th February?

Senator MILLEN - When Senator Needham says that Mr. Deane did not say anything of the kind, I have to quote the exact words. They were -

The Minister having decided to appoint Mr. Chinn as supervising engineer to take charge of the Western end of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway -

That minute is dated 6th February, 19 12.

Senator Needham - What about the memorandum of the 14th February.

Senator MILLEN - It was all over then. The Minister having already decided on the appointment of Mr. Chinn, the matter was finished. The Minister of Home Affairs has assured this country, and the whole world, that he is not a " rubber stamp," and having decided prior to the 6th February to appoint Mr. Chinn, it did not matter what happened on the 14th February.

Senator McDougall - The honorable senator is making out a very poor case for Mr. Deane.

Senator MILLEN - I am quoting from the papers. With regard to the testimonials, I do not know whether honorable senators opposite have recognised the fact that Senator de Largie did not produce any proof that Mr. Chinn was a civil engineer.

Senator de Largie - That is good.

Senator MILLEN - Are honorable senators aware that before a man can call himself a civil engineer in this country, or in any other country, so far as I am aware, he must have obtained a diploma. If I am asked to say how I would prove a statement that Mr. Chinn is not a civil engineer, my answer is that I cannot prove a negative; but it is competent for those who speak on behalf of Mr. Chinn, if he is a properly qualified civil engineer, to produce his diploma, and mention the University from which, he obtained it.

Senator Needham - The honorable senators opposite made the assertion, and it is for them to prove it.

Senator MILLEN - It would not be possible for me to prove that Mr. Chinn has not obtained a diploma unless I applied for information to every University in the world; but if he is a civil engineer, let him give the name of the University which granted him his diploma. In one of the letters, which was read by Senator de Largie this .afternoon, reference was made to the skill displayed by Mr. Chinn in connexion with underground engineering contracts. I am quite prepared to admit the accuracy of that portion of the testimonial.

Senator Rae - The honorable senator is quite qualified to judge.

Senator MILLEN - Senator Rae is quite right. I have not been politically associated with him for a number of years without having been afforded an opportunity of forming an opinion of what constitutes a first-class engineer in connexion with underground contracts. I would be a much bigger fool than my enemies accuse me of being if I had not learned a little. However, I have said all that I desire to say upon this matter. In conclusion, I merely wish to express the sincere hope that in future, when it is desired to bring under review in this Chamber any matter which has formed the subject of debate elsewhere, the proper and orderly course will be followed. Senator de Largie laughs, but he knows perfectly well that this afternoon he practically placed our Standing Orders at defiance. He will not pretend for a moment that during the course of his speech he was not quoting from the Hansard report of a debate in another place.

Senator Rae - The honorable senator himself quoted from Hansard.

The PRESIDENT - Senator Millen must recognise that Senator de Largie assured me that the statements which he was quoting had appeared in the press. While he was speaking the Leader of the Opposition himself held a copy of Hansard in his hand, but I did not prevent him from quoting from it, because he declared that he was quoting language which is on record in the file of papers which was laid upon the Library table.

Senator MILLEN - Of course, Senators de Largie, O'Keefe, and Henderson will not pretend for a moment that they did not quote from Hansard, any more than I will pretend that I did not.

Senator Givens - If they committed a wrong, their action does not justify the honorable senator in doing likewise.

Senator MILLEN - In future, when an attempt is made to bring under review in this Chamber anything which has transpired in another place, I hope that, with a view to obviating trouble, that attempt will be made in a proper way under our Standing Orders.

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